It's early in the morning on the first day of a brand new year--the perfect time to write about the changes that are happening in my family.
Months ago, when I mentioned to my next-door neighbor that the winds of change were blowing, she immediately--and probably completely unconsciously--looked down at my front to see if a baby bump was visible there. Maybe that was your first thought, too. ;-) But no, that's not the change that is in the wind this time. ;-)
Twelve years ago, in the fall of 2005, we arrived in Virginia, freshly returned from spending several years in Israel. It was a beautiful September day when we got here; and, probably because we had spent the previous eight years in climates without four distinct seasons, I had a heightened appreciation for fall and all the beautiful transformations that happen here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during that time.
But leaves aren't the only thing that change in the fall.
For quite some time, Jeff and I had felt a stirring in our souls, a hunger and thirst for something more, a desire to live more radically than the comfortable existence we had settled into. We LOVED that comfortable existence, make no mistake about it! But there was a whisper in the wind of something more, and that voice grew stronger as the summer of 2017 went by and autumn approached.
The voice summoned us with an ancient call: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
Many of you know that Jeff and I had, earlier in life, served in the full-time ministry, both in the US and internationally. When we moved back to my home place in 2005, it wasn't necessarily with the intention to stay here forever! We wanted to remain open to God's guidance as to our future plans; but as time went on and our roots in this soil grew deeper, the chances of us again serving God in that way seemed to grow dim.
Our wonderful fourth son reminds us of an important spiritual principle. You see, Shav's name comes from a Hebrew word that means "return, restore," and that's exactly what we needed to do: to shav to our first love! :) And in early September, we did just that--reconnecting with a congregation in Washington DC that felt very much like home to us, a place of sacrificial love and incredible zeal to reach out to others, to LIVE the teachings of Jesus, not just talk about them. Being around the brothers and sisters there reminded us of how much we had changed in the preceding dozen years. It was time to return.
We thought and prayed and pondered and sought advice and talked with each other and poured our hearts out to God and waited for His response. And when Jeff gave me the YES that I was hoping to hear, my heart rejoiced with exceeding joy! But early on, I became aware of the enormity of the decision we had just made; and as I carried jars of homemade grape juice down to our cellar late one night in early September, I paused there and bowed my head. "God, if You can help me dig up the roots I've put down in this place, I will follow You anywhere," I prayed. "I will go anywhere, do anything, and give up everything for You. But You're going to have to help me, because these roots go down so far, I'm not sure I can ever get them up by myself!"
And that, dear friends and readers, is what we've been doing this past fall: digging up roots and preparing to soar again.
We knew immediately that our desire for deeper involvement with the DC church meant that being there for a two-hour slot on Sundays just wasn't going to cut it, so we sought a buyer for our home, Jeff looked for new employment in the DC area, and we prepared to move (not an easy feat for a family of eight!).
God gave us a buyer for our home (our next-door neighbors, which is amazingly ideal for so many reasons), God gave Jeff a new job right outside DC (in an upscale barber shop near the Pentagon), and God is helping us move.
We haven't quite gotten that last part finished yet. ;-)
But we're making significant progress--not the least of which was meeting with the realtor and the homeowners yesterday, on the last day of the old year, to finish the paperwork and get the keys to our new home!!
Being in the northern Virginia area means we'll be close enough to the Harrisonburg area to make regular visits here; and with the friends and family we have in this area, we will always have a strong attachment here. The kids will still participate in the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir, Jeff will still work one day a week at his barbershop here, we will visit my parents every week, and we'll likely do quite a bit of our food shopping here and take advantage of the lower prices away from the metropolitan area! ;-) But the rest of the time, we'll be in and around DC, being used--we pray--to effectively advance the kingdom of God!
There is so much more I could say about all of this, but for now, it is a beginning--the first part, here on the year's first day, of the story of this next chapter of our lives. More than anything, we desire for God to be the author of all that is coming! He writes the BEST adventures, after all!! :)